Afternoon Delight, the final show in the Tender Loving Queers minifestival through, began with a potluck. I’ve never been to a show that was also a potluck, but honestly, other shows should take notes. The food was great, and it bound the audience and performers together before the show began. The show used the 18th and Union stage as an intimate story-sharing circle. This allowed both its scheduled storytellers and audience members to grab the mic in a relaxed environment. Both the potluck and the show’s emphasis on audience participation opened up the performance to create an inviting, flexible experience.
There were five performers in attendance: Graham Downing, Jackie Miedema, Sarah Kate, Strawberry Shartcake, and Tootsie Spangles. Jéhan Òsanyìn was unfortunately unable to attend. Each story shared the common theme of “family,” and invited LGBTQ+ storytellers to share anecdotes ranging from hilarious to sincere to a mix of the two. Stories jumped from topics like abusive relationships and fraught experiences with organized religion to brotherly love and acceptance. Though some performers were more used to getting up on stage, every story- including one from an audience member- was personal, well-constructed, and valuable. The show, stage managed by Maren Comendant, was smooth, and the fluid atmosphere of the theater space kept throughout.
I keep returning to the term flexibility in describing the festival as a whole. For one thing, flexibility describes the nature of the festival’s solo performances, which emphasized improv and audience engagement. Furthermore, the thematic idea of flexibility necessary in navigating identity, sexual orientation, and family is a crucial idea in Delight and all of the festival’s works.
Afternoon Delight and the Tender Loving Queers festival was a deeply rewarding theatrical experience. It was funny and fun and well-observed. Afternoon Delight was an inviting capstone to the festival.
Afternoon Delight has concluded its run at 18th and Union. For more information on the Tender Loving Queers festival, go to https://18thandunion.org/tender-loving-queers.